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Whenever there's a movie about a woman having a baby at home, the person delivering the kid will say, "I need lots of hot water." For what? I never see them washing anything, and it's not like they have a bunch of surgical instruments to sterilize.

-- Robert Day, the net

Hey, Matt:

As I was leaving the radiology department of a local hospital after having a prenatal ultrasound, a nurse in the hallway said to me, "When you come to have your baby, you have to leave your ring at home. You aren't allowed to wear jewelry in the hospital." I've heard about this rule before, always from older women, but I've never known anyone to be ordered to remove any jewelry. I was not asked to surrender my earrings at the door when I was hospitalized previously. So is this a rule or just an old mom's tale?

-- Just wondering in San Diego

If you're not hospitalized for surgery, I guess you could wear your favorite ankle bracelet and a nipple ring and a tiara, if that suits you. But if you're in for something that involves an operating room (or could put you there, in the worst-case scenario), you really don't want any metal hanging off your body. An OR is full of electrical equipment, notably an electrocautery device, which stops bleeding from small vessels with a jolt of current. As a safety measure, they'll stick a grounding pad on you, but removing jewelry makes it doubly safe. They don't want you lighting up like a neon beer sign. And then there are issues of jewelry interfering with other kinds of treatment or getting lost or maybe pinched. The hospital just wants you to present the part that hurts; they don't want to dig through a lot of metal to find it. And hey, congrats on the bambino.

Birthing Follow Up

Why, in cheesy films, do people always yell for lots of boiling water when somebody's about to give birth at home? I guessed it's because men write the scripts, and whadda they know? Michael-Leonard Creditor obviously sees more cheesy films than I do. He offers the following.

I can't recall when or where I saw this. Maybe an Old West movie or TV show. Anyway, when the contractions signaled that birth was imminent, the midwife told the father-to-be that she'd need "plenty of hot water and towels." After he left the room, she turned to the woman and said, "There. That'll keep him out of the way."

Robert's answer? Well, men write the corny scripts. Whadda they know about birthin' babies? Average guy's concept of necessary birth gear: lotsa hot water and the TV remote.

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